It’s time for your semi-annual visit to our office. As we prepare for your examination and teeth cleaning, we may also take a moment to check your blood pressure.
No, you’re not in the wrong office. The fact is, blood pressure screenings in dental offices are becoming more prevalent. The reason is twofold: as one of your healthcare providers, we may be able to identify a problem with your blood pressure that has previously gone unnoticed; and hypertension (chronic high blood pressure) and any drugs you may be taking for it can affect your dental health and how we provide treatment.
Hypertension, the medical term for high blood pressure, is usually regarded as any sustained pressure greater than 125/80 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury). It’s been identified as a major cause of cardiovascular disease, a family of heart-related diseases that affect an astounding 80 million people in the United States. Chronic hypertension has gained a reputation as “the silent killer” — many people are unaware they have it and if left untreated can lead to more serious conditions such as stroke or heart attack. It’s also a symptom of diabetes, even in the absence of other symptoms.
As part of your healthcare team, we’re in a good position to screen for hypertension and other general health problems. At the same time, hypertension is an important factor in dental care, especially if you are on regulating medication. Many anti-hypertensive drugs have side effects, such as dry mouth, that can affect your oral health. Your pressure status and medications may also affect the types and dosages of local anesthetics we would use during procedures; many of these constrict blood vessels (known as vasoconstrictors), which can elevate blood pressure.
A simple blood pressure check could reveal a health problem you didn’t even know about. It also helps us provide you with better and safer dental care.
If you would like more information on the effects of high blood pressure on your dental health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Monitoring Blood Pressure.”